People often ask what exactly “Social Responsibility” means when considering the Y’s focus and mission. Most people can pretty quickly get their heads around “Youth Development” and “Healthy Living,” particularly when quickly scanning our programs and facilities. However, the concept of social responsibility understandably seems more abstract and less defined.
Well, I think you can come to understand the Y’s focus on social responsibility in two ways. The first is that everything we do is about that. All of our programs and services exist because of our commitment to social responsibility. The second, and perhaps more essential way to think about social responsibility, is that the work of the Y is fundamentally about community building; the knitting together of disparate and often disconnected parts of our community to provide an opportunity for all of us to see the value and promise in people with whom we wouldn’t ordinarily interact. That plays out through membership, camp, youth sports, volunteerism, the Turkey Trot, Community Schools, mentoring and, in this case, Y Achievers.
This story seems to be simply about a nice event blending a family outing, the appreciation of nature and exposure to some classical music as Y friends, volunteers, associates and other community members gathered under sunny skies this past Saturday to enjoy the splendor of Sherwood Gardens (in the Guilford neighborhood of Baltimore City, not far from the Weinberg Y in Waverly).
Following a concert featuring faculty from the Baltimore School of Music, guests participated in nature-based activities led by Rangers from the Patent Wildlife Refuge, and explored Sherwood Gardens on a tour led by Master Gardeners to learn about the garden’s design, history and plants. Children participated in the Sherwood Gardens Junior Ranger program by completing a landscape architect activity guide, and creating bird feeders ( for those of you more curious about the unique and wonderful Sherwood Gardens, follow this link.
The day culminated in an awards ceremony for Project Olmsted, a summer-long exhibition of flower beds designed by various groups in the tradition of the esteemed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. Our very own Y Achievers from the Weinberg Y in Waverly were among the groups that designed and planted flower beds (with some supplemental irrigation provided by Y campers throughout the summer), and I am proud to announce that they won first place in the Project Olmsted competition for one of their beds and an honorable mention for another!
In addition to congratulating our Y Achievers on their achievements, I’d like to also thank the Guilford Association for hosting this project and Y associates Grace Chaisson, Rachel Shade, Warren Wiggins and Eric Somerville for their leadership in helping to make this special experience for Y kids and families happen.
Most importantly, I’d like to point out that this project had the effect of bringing together two neighborhoods, Waverly and Guilford, which, despite the fact that they essentially sit side by side, are too often worlds apart. On Saturday, the Y made sure that wasn’t the case. If some eyes were opened, new friendships were made, and possibilities expanded, then we did our most essential, important job.
As you can see, social responsibility is a real, concrete thing here at the Y.
All the best,
John K. Hoey
President & CEO
The Y in Central Maryland